The decline and collapse of Arsenal after the first double

Having won the Fairs Cup in 1970, Arsenal went on to win the double for the first time in 1971 and this was seen by many (and not just those within the club) as the rebirth of the Arsenal of the 1930s when all other clubs fell beneath an inexorable march that led to five titles and two FA Cups within the decade.

But it was not to be for on this day in 1972 the Arsenal team that played had very little either in terms of personnel or style to do with the double winning team.  And by this day in 1978 the team that Arsenal put out was virtually devoid of stars or even highly skilled and promising young players.

There can be no doubt that it was the fault of the manager Bertie Mee, who attempted to run the club like a military unit, when he was dealing with players who had in the course of two years become superstars.

Inevitably there were many other clubs who were keen to pick up the players whom Mee alienated and the great promise of the early 1970s vanished as fast as it had appeared.  Finishes of 10th, 16th and 17th showed everyone what many had known earlier in the decade, that Mee’s days were over.  He left at the end of the 1975/6 season and few mourned his departure.

Here are the anniversaries.

14 October 1893: Arsenal’s record FA Cup score of all time came in their first FA Cup match as a league club, beating Ashford 12-0.  See also this article for the full cup run.

14 October 1903: Alex “Sandy” Main made his final appearance as a centre forward before on 1 November suddenly turning up as a centre half for a run of six games with Arsenal winning five of the run.

14 October 1913: Britain’s worst ever pit disaster.  439 miners died in the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster.

14 October 1915: British troops used poison gas on the battlefield for the first time.

14 October 1922: Arsenal lost 0-7 to West Bromwich, as Henry White faded away and Arsenal started a run of 8 without a win.  It was the second time Arsenal lost 0-7 in the first division – the first being 2 October 1909.

14 October 1925: Arsenal played their third game in five days: a friendly away to Lincoln of the 3rd Division North; and lost 3-0 in front of 4,000 people.  It was mostly Arsenal reserves but with Lewis in goal and John at left back, as Chapman seemed to be trying out a new formation to cope with the new offside rule

14 October 1933:  Arsenal beat Newcastle 3-0 but injuries meant that only two players had played all 10 of the opening league games and now Jack sustained a long term injury and would not play again until 24 February.  Birkett, Bowden and an OG gave Arsenal the win.

14 October 1964: Arsenal beat Corinthian Casuals in the Sheriff of London Shield 7-0

14 October 1972: Arsenal 1 Ipswich Town 0 with 34,196 in the ground, and George Graham scoring. Armstrong was injured (Marinello taking over) and Simpson was  replaced Roberts. Next month Roberts was replaced by Blockley. Barnett was in goal with Wilson injured. The Double team was vanishing fast.

14 October 1978: Wolverhampton 1 Arsenal 0, 19,664 in the crowd. The team seemed to be made up of “almost” players:  Devine, Harvey, Vaessen, Kosima, Heeley, Stead, and later McDermott, Brignall… the names came and went  with only Walford looking like he might be there for the long haul.

14 October 1984: A Bob Wilson XI played St Albans in a friendly and drew 4-4

14 October 1997: Jason Crowe who played 3 times for England’s under 20s, came on as a sub and was sent off 33 seconds into his debut in a league cup which ended Arsenal 4 Birmingham 1.  In the same game Jehad Muntasser came on two minutes before the end, and was transferred soon after, giving him the shortest ever Arsenal career. Crowe went on loan to Palace, moving on to Portsmouth, Grimsby, Northampton and other clubs before closing his career at Corby Town in 2013.  Muntasser played in Serie B and C in Italy and became a major force in helping children affected by the 2011 Libyan revolution. Other débutantes in the game were Manninger, Upson, Vernazza, and Mendez.

14 October 2001: Referee Taylor, the man who accused Mr Wenger of assault in the tunnel and had him banned for 12 matches earlier in the year (the ban later being overturned on appeal) was himself charged with misconduct for insulting comments to Notts County’s Sean Farrell during the game against Wigan

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